If you’ve never run the Boulder Backroads or done a loop around the Reservoir, you’re missing out on some prime terrain.
Runners and cyclists adore the Boulder Backroads for the wealth of long stretches of rolling hills and dirt roads. When it’s time to incorporate long runs into the training cycle, the parking lot at the Boulder Res fills up early as runners lace up their shoes, sync their watches and meet their training partners or groups. The loop around the Res is great for a quick lunch run, speed work or mid-week tempo run.
Parking options include the Boulder Res on 51st Street, Eagle Trailhead, the far parking lot on 51st where a single porto-potty stands guard, or the Tom Watts parking lot on 63rd. Regardless of where you park, it’s important to remember that you can always run OUT of the Boulder Res without paying a fee, but you cannot run INTO the Res.
From Boulder, the easiest parking option is at the entrance to the Reservoir on 51st Street.
Start at the parking lot on 51st Street in front of the Reservoir gates and run north on 51st Street for a little over a mile. The north parking lot with the porto-potty is on the right after the second big hill. Go through the parking lot to the trail that starts to circle the east side of the Reservoir. Where the fence ends, make a sharp left onto the trail and head up another slight incline. People and their dogs are often down further at the water, so watch out for wet pooches that come bounding up to say Hi!
Continue around the path and enjoy the still waters of Coot Lake on your left. Continue past Coot Lake and head south on the trail (right) as you continue to hug the Reservoir on your right. In the early morning the coyotes sometimes lope along in the distance, but they’re not a daily sight.
There will be two distinct straight-aways as you head across the Dam. The wind picks up here sometimes, and on certain days in the winter the temperature drops almost 15 degrees as the wind blows frigid air off the water.
At the end of the Dam the paved roads begins again and runners can pick out the beach and boats parked on the shore. From this point it’s about a mile to the Reservoir gates.
This run is approximately 5.2 miles in length and offers great views of the Front Range, so plan on taking a camera and your speedy shoes!